TOP STORY >> Wing Ding festival Saturday
Leader staff writer
Jacksonville plays host this weekend to country stars, chicken wing cookers and eaters, boat paddlers, fishers, runners and about 100 different vendors, all part of the city’s Wing Ding Festival at Dupree Park.
Admission and parking for the festival is free.
Things get started at 7:30 a.m. with the fishing derby and the 5K run.
The fishing derby is open to all ages and the state Game and Fish Department has freshly stocked the lake. Prizes will be given hourly for the biggest and smallest fish. The 5K run, sponsored by the Jacksonville Police Department, will benefit Arkansas Special Olympics.
A volleyball tournament starts at 9 a.m. and runs all day.
The festival’s food court complete with funnel cakes, roasted corn, nachos, snow cones, barbecue and more also opens at 9 a.m. and runs until the festival closes at 6 p.m.
Craft vendors, kids rides, face painting, pony rides and the firefighter’s exhibit will also be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Henderson Flying Group will put on a radio control air show at 11 a.m., and again at 1 and 3 p.m.
The ever-popular glider wars start at 9:30 a.m. with teams building their aircraft and then putting them to the test, start at 10:30 a.m. Teams will put together aircraft from a carefully arranged pile of “junk.” When ready, the aircraft will be sent gliding high in the sky from the back of a utility truck. Prizes will be given for longest flight, coolest glider and best crash.
The World Championship Chicken Wing Cook Off, sponsored by Leader Publishing, will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Competitors will be vying for up to $1,000 in prize money. Festival- goers will be able to sample and vote for the best wings.
The paddleboat rides in Dupree Lake will start at noon.Disney Radio entertainers will perform throughout the day.
Two highlights this year will be the chicken eating contest and the country entertainers.
New country artist Jarett McAlister will perform at 4 p.m. and established country singer Bryan White will close the festival with his 6 p.m. performance.
White, from Lawton, Okla., was one of the top new country acts of the ’90s, with four of his first eight singles topping the country charts.
White, 35, became a country star at the age of 20, scoring chart-topping hits with “Somebody Else’ Star” and “Rebecca Lynn.”
McAlister, 18, from Kilgore, Texas, took first place in 2008 in the songwriting event at the Texas Woodstock Festival in Winnsboro and was chosen for Best Original Performance at the County Music Association’s Music City Rising Star Event.
Considered a guitar master, he plays lead guitar and has bass vocals. His song list includes more than 250 top country hits and about 45 original songs.
The festival will sponsor a competitive chicken wing-eating contest starting about 11 a.m. with a first place prize of $600.
There will be two competitions — an amateur contest and a celebrity match up.
“We hope the eating competition will put on the state, regional and national map,” Denise Goforth, a spokesman for the city’s annual festival, said.
The Major League Eating, a sports franchise that overseas all professional competitive eating events and competitive eating television specials on ESPN and other networks, will run the eating contest next year.